TRENTON, N.J. – An aging workforce could benefit from a bill passed by a legislative panel today expanding discrimination protections for those aged 70 years and older.
“There is no reason our laws should stop preventing age discrimination in the workplace once someone has reached 70 years old,” said Assemblywoman BettyLou DeCroce, a prime sponsor of the legislation heard in the Assembly’s Aging and Senior Services Committee today. “Some seniors have to keep working because of New Jersey’s high cost of living, while others just find their careers very rewarding. Either way, their age shouldn’t hold them back.”
Under DeCroce’s bill (A681), public employers would no longer be permitted to force public employees to retire at a certain age under a law that allows them to do so if they can show retirement age relates to the employment in question. Additionally, higher education institutions would not be allowed to require tenured employees to retire at 70 years old. Employers would also be prohibited from refusing to hire or promote a person solely because a person is over 70 years old.
“The exceptions to the age discrimination protections on the books are discriminatory,” explained DeCroce (R-Morris). “Current and potential employees should be evaluated on their skill sets, performance history and credentials – not the date on their birth certificates.”
According to AARP-NJ, workers 65 and older are the fastest growing labor pool. Workers who are 50 and older will make up 35 percent of the workforce by 2022. The U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey revealed more than one in three New Jerseyans between ages 65 and 74 were employed or looking for work. The latest data shows more than 21 percent of adults over 65 are currently working.
The bill does not make changes to the New Jersey Constitution, which includes mandatory retirement for Supreme Court justices and some other judges upon reaching age 70, and Police and Firemen’s Retirement System members.